New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Each one is its own cultural world. It’s easy to get caught up in the urban landscape and forget that there are gorgeous vistas, historic villages and fun day trips from New York. While you may also consider visiting Niagara Falls if you have a couple of extra days on hand, here are five short drive getaways to tempt you to leave the boundaries of NYC.
1. Asbury Park, New Jersey
A mecca for Bruce Springsteen fans, Asbury Park is a short drive south from Manhattan. The New Jersey seaside town with a population of more than 16,000 has seen revitalization in recent years but still retains its retro charm. Stroll the boardwalk and stop at a clam bar. Walk or pedal bikes or boats along the shore. Don’t miss the Silverball Museum, home to a rotating collection of 600 pinball and video arcade games. Asbury Park is still known for its thriving music scene, so make sure to schedule the time to check out some of the best nightlife on the Jersey Shore.
2. Mystic, Connecticut
Less than 3 hours’ drive northeast of New York City, Mystic, Connecticut is a great place for a family trip. This scenic maritime town along the Mystic River has a famous seaport, historic ships, and an interactive children’s museum. Take a leisurely stroll through the quaint 19th-century seafaring Olde Mystick Village. Have a meal of fresh seafood in one of the local restaurants. Try homemade ice cream before heading over to the Mystic Aquarium to hang out with whales, penguins, and dolphins. The movie “Mystic Pizza”, starring Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor, and Vincent D’Onofrio was set here and the shop sign still hangs awaiting your selfie!
3. Hyde Park, New York
The natural light and vistas of the Hudson Valley have inspired artists like Remington, Cole, Church, and Cropsey, who were part of the Hudson River school. The area has long been a weekend getaway for New Yorkers. Hyde Park, located in Dutchess County with a population of 21,000, offers a glimpse of the area’s rich history. Visit the late 19th-century Beaux-Arts-style Vanderbilt Mansion. The Roosevelt National Historic Site is well worth a trip. It includes the 32nd president’s lifelong home, the FDR Presidential Library, and Museum, as well as Eleanor Roosevelt’s home. You can end your tour at the Culinary Institute of America, which runs four public restaurants, as well as seasonal pop-ups.
4. Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Long Island is famous for The Hamptons and pop icon Billy Joel. There’s much more to this area east of Manhattan, including beaches, vineyards, historic homes, lush gardens, and a sailing and boating culture. The tiny hamlet of Cold Spring Harbor has only 5,000 inhabitants. Founded as a whaling community, it is now home to the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium, as well as the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum. Head east to neighboring Huntington for great dining and nightlife or pack a picnic and head west to Oyster Bay for a visit to the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, home to 26th president Theodore Roosevelt.
5. Woodstock, NY
Woodstock is known for the famous music festival. Although the festival actually took place just outside the town, the spirit that fueled this legendary event was pure Woodstock. Located in Ulster County, north of New York City, the town has about 6,000 inhabitants. The first artists’ colony was formed in 1903 and creative types have been gravitating here ever since. Some of the more celebrated artists, writers, and musicians who have created and lived in Woodstock include Bob Dylan, Neil Gaiman, Carla Bley, David Bowie, Amy Tan, and Rachel Yamagata. While it may have transitioned from hippies to hipsters recently, this rich history is still available to explore, along with art galleries, hiking trails, and great dining.